The Clash – London Calling (1979)

AllMusic Review: Give ‘Em Enough Rope, for all of its many attributes, was essentially a holding pattern for the Clash, but the double-album London Calling is a remarkable leap forward, incorporating the punk aesthetic into rock & roll mythology and roots music. Before, the Clash had experimented with reggae, but that was no preparation for the dizzying array of styles on London Calling. There’s punk and reggae, but there’s also rockabilly, ska, New Orleans R&B, pop, lounge jazz, and hard rock; and while the record isn’t tied together by a specific theme, its eclecticism and anthemic punk function as a rallying call. While many of the songs — particularly “London Calling,” “Spanish Bombs,” and “The Guns of Brixton” — are explicitly political, by acknowledging no boundaries the music itself is political and revolutionary. But it is also invigorating, rocking harder and with more purpose than most albums, let alone double albums. Over the course of the record, Joe Strummer and Mick Jones (and Paul Simonon, who wrote “The Guns of Brixton”) explore their familiar themes of working-class rebellion and antiestablishment rants, but they also tie them in to old rock & roll traditions and myths, whether it’s rockabilly greasers or “Stagger Lee,” as well as mavericks like doomed actor Montgomery Clift. The result is a stunning statement of purpose and one of the greatest rock & roll albums ever recorded. — Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Track Listing:

All lead vocals by Joe Strummer, except where noted.

All tracks are written by Strummer and Mick Jones, except where noted.

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Lead vocals Length
1. “London Calling” 3:19
2. “Brand New Cadillac” Vince Taylor; originally performed by Vince Taylor and his Playboys 2:09
3. “Jimmy Jazz” 3:52
4. “Hateful” 2:45
5. “Rudie Can’t Fail” Strummer, Jones 3:26
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Lead vocals Length
1. “Spanish Bombs” Strummer, Jones 3:19
2. “The Right Profile” 3:56
3. “Lost in the Supermarket” Jones 3:47
4. “Clampdown” Strummer, Jones 3:49
5. “The Guns of Brixton” Paul Simonon Simonon 3:07
Side three
No. Title Writer(s) Lead vocals Length
1. “Wrong ‘Em Boyo” Clive Alphonso; originally performed by the Rulers; including “Stagger Lee” 3:10
2. “Death or Glory” 3:55
3. “Koka Kola” 1:46
4. “The Card Cheat” Strummer, Jones, Simonon, Topper Headon Jones 3:51
Side four
No. Title Writer(s) Lead vocals Length
1. “Lover’s Rock” 4:01
2. “Four Horsemen” 2:56
3. “I’m Not Down” Jones 3:00
4. “Revolution Rock” Jackie Edwards, Danny Ray; originally performed by Danny Ray and the Revolutionaries 5:37
5. “Train in Vain” Jones 3:09

 

 

Schill Score: 10/10

 

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The Clash – The Clash (1977)

AllMusic Review: Never Mind the Bollocks may have appeared revolutionary, but the Clash’s eponymous debut album was pure, unadulterated rage and fury, fueled by passion for both rock & roll and revolution. Though the cliché about punk rock was that the bands couldn’t play, the key to the Clash is that although they gave that illusion, they really could play — hard. The charging, relentless rhythms, primitive three-chord rockers, and the poor sound quality give the album a nervy, vital energy. Joe Strummer’s slurred wails perfectly compliment the edgy rock, while Mick Jones’ clearer singing and charged guitar breaks make his numbers righteously anthemic. Even at this early stage, the Clash were experimenting with reggae, most notably on the Junior Murvin cover “Police & Thieves” and the extraordinary “(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais,” which was one of five tracks added to the American edition of The Clash. “Deny,” “Protex Blue,” “Cheat,” and “48 Hours” were removed from the British edition and replaced for the U.S. release with the British-only singles “Complete Control,” “(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais,” “Clash City Rockers,” “I Fought the Law,” and “Jail Guitar Doors,” all of which were stronger than the items they replaced. Though the sequencing and selection were slightly different, the core of the album remained the same, and each song retained its power individually. Few punk songs expressed anger quite as bracingly as “White Riot,” “I’m So Bored with the U.S.A.,” “Career Opportunities,” and “London’s Burning,” and their power is all the more incredible today. Rock & roll is rarely as edgy, invigorating, and sonically revolutionary as The Clash. [In 2000, Columbia/Legacy reissued and remastered the album to include the U.K. songs.] — Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Track Listing

All lead vocals by Joe Strummer, except where noted.

All tracks are written by Strummer and Mick Jones, except where noted.

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Lead vocals Length
1. “Janie Jones” 2:03
2. “Remote Control” Jones, Strummer 3:00
3. “I’m So Bored with the USA” 2:25
4. “White Riot” 1:56
5. “Hate and War” Jones, Strummer 2:05
6. “What’s My Name” Strummer, Jones, Keith Levene 1:40
7. “Deny” 3:03
8. “London’s Burning” 2:12
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Lead vocals Length
1. “Career Opportunities” 1:52
2. “Cheat” 2:06
3. “Protex Blue” Jones 1:42
4. “Police & Thieves” Junior Murvin, Lee Perry 6:01
5. “48 Hours” 1:34
6. “Garageland” 3:12

 

Schill Score:  9/10

 

 

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